Review: 'Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Holds Position As Best Comedy On TV NPR's TV critic reviews the second season of Amazon's breakout hit, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. He says the show continues its reign as one of the best comedies on television.
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Review: 'Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Holds Position As Best Comedy On TV

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Review: 'Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Holds Position As Best Comedy On TV

Review

TV Reviews

Review: 'Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Holds Position As Best Comedy On TV

Review: 'Marvelous Mrs. Maisel' Holds Position As Best Comedy On TV

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NPR's TV critic reviews the second season of Amazon's breakout hit, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. He says the show continues its reign as one of the best comedies on television.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

At about this time last year, "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel's" debut season was blossoming into a big new hit for Amazon. It earned Golden Globe, Peabody and Emmy Awards. Well, the show's second season is out today, and NPR TV critic Eric Deggans says it builds on all the things that made the series a hit the first time around.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "JUST LEAVE EVERYTHING TO ME")

BARBRA STREISAND: (Singing) I have always been a woman who arranges things.

ERIC DEGGANS, BYLINE: "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" often unfolds like a lush, fast-paced movie or a Broadway play from the 1950s, complete with a soaring soundtrack.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "JUST LEAVE EVERYTHING TO ME")

STREISAND: (Singing) Just leave everything to me.

DEGGANS: It settles down to Earth when Miriam Maisel, an upper-middle-class Jewish New York housewife turned stand-up comic, played by Rachel Brosnahan, takes the stage to entertain a crowd.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL")

RACHEL BROSNAHAN: (As Miriam Maisel) But men - those over there and men in general - they run around telling everyone that women aren't funny. Only men are funny. Now, think about this - comedy is fueled by oppression, by the lack of power, by abandonment and humiliation. Now, who the hell does that describe more than women?

(LAUGHTER)

BROSNAHAN: (As Miriam Maisel) Judging by those standards, only women who should be funny.

DEGGANS: That's one reason why "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel" doesn't feel old-fashioned. The show kicks around modern ideas about gender and equality in a very specific corner of 1950s-era New York. Last season, Miriam - also known as Midge - decided to become a stand-up comic after her husband revealed he was leaving her for someone else. Things get way more complicated this season when problems crop up between Midge's parents. Her college professor father, Abe, played with absentminded gusto by Tony Shalhoub, calls to say her mother, Rose, is in Paris and may not make it back for his faculty Christmas party.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL")

BROSNAHAN: (As Miriam Maisel) Did you ask when she'd be back?

TONY SHALHOUB: (As Abe Weissman) Yes.

BROSNAHAN: (As Miriam Maisel) A second ago, you assumed.

SHALHOUB: (As Abe Weissman) Asked, assumed - same thing.

BROSNAHAN: (As Miriam Maisel) Not at all the same thing.

SHALHOUB: (As Abe Weissman) Pretty close.

BROSNAHAN: (As Miriam Maisel) You teach at Columbia. They should be terrified.

DEGGANS: Yeah. Abe doesn't listen so well because she actually said this.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL")

MARIN HINKLE: (As Rose Weissman) I don't feel like I have a life here anymore. Everything and everyone that I always counted on has let me down. You don't need me. Miriam doesn't need me. I serve no purpose. I'm unhappy, and I'm tired of being unhappy, so I booked myself a flight for tomorrow night, as Zelda's making lamb for dinner.

DEGGANS: Which leads Midge to respond like this.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL")

BROSNAHAN: (As Miriam Maisel) Did you hear what you just said?

SHALHOUB: (As Abe Weissman) What?

BROSNAHAN: (As Miriam Maisel) You just told me that mama told you she was moving to Paris.

SHALHOUB: (As Abe Weissman) I never said that.

BROSNAHAN: (As Miriam Maisel) Everyone and everything that I have ever counted on has let me down, and you said OK.

SHALHOUB: (As Abe Weissman) No. I said, lamb was OK, and it was.

DEGGANS: I love that kind of artful pacing. Executive producer Amy Sherman-Palladino provides the same sharp wit and snappy patter found in her earlier hit, "Gilmore Girls," which itself sometimes felt like a callback to 1950s-era comedies. Marin Hinkle is perfectly cast as Midge's mom, inspired by her daughter to find her own happiness away from an inattentive spouse. Surprisingly, Midge doesn't agree, arguing with her mother on a side street in Paris.

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL")

BROSNAHAN: (As Miriam Maisel) You have to get over this. The world is full of disappointments, and sometimes people let you down. You made a commitment to this man. He is your husband. You have to go back to him.

HINKLE: (As Rose Weissman) Well, look who's talking.

DEGGANS: There's more - amazing clothes, artfully shot scenes in Paris, lots of well-deployed curse words. And Alex Borstein, who is a foul-mouthed delight as Midge's manager, Susie Myerson. I'd like to see more significant non-white characters, but Maisel's idealized 1950s New York isn't quite that idealized. Still, it all comes together in an entertaining, precisely assembled season that shows the widening impact of Mrs. Maisel's drive toward a thoroughly modern style of independence. I'm Eric Deggans.

(SOUNDBITE OF LEW ANDERSON BIG BAND'S "FIRED BY AN INNER SPARK")

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